Today the United States remembers Martin Luther King, Jr. Schools are closed, so are many banks. People post quotes from him on Facebook and many public radio stations broadcast speeches King made during the Civil Rights movement.
I grew up during the early 1970’s in the midwestern section of the United States. I was born just 18 months after King was assassinated. I didn’t know who he was and I don’t recall being taught about him in history class. It may have been too recent to be included in our curriculum, or it may have been a volatile subject matter. I don’t know. I do know though, that race was never something my family talked about. The color of a person’s skin was never pointed out, as a matter of fact it was a non-topic. People were just people.
I think about a friend of mine who has a large family and continues to add to it by grafting in children God brings into their life through the foster system. She loves them the same way she loves all of her children. She doesn’t see color, nationality, nothing. She sees a child who needs love and attention. That’s all. And she loves on each one. Period.
Our world is so full of anger and hatred because someone doesn’t look the same, pray the same, dress the same, work the same, vote the same, love the same…. the list goes on and on and on. It makes me heartsick. Just because I don’t do the same things as someone else doesn’t mean I have to hate them. It’s often the opposite. I want to know them, understand them, learn about them. And I want to grow to love them.
We were never-no-not ever-supposed to be cookie cutter people. Besides, whose cookie cutter patterns are we going to use??
God made us unique, different, from our hair color to our height, our weight, our likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses, our joys, stories, sorrows, we were created to be one-of-a-kind. Any other way of trying to live is contrary to the way God made us. And it’s exhausting. Why do we want to be like everyone else?
The only thing we are supposed to do that is the same as everyone else is to love one another.
LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
There is the story about a new pastor who stood in front of his church one Sunday morning and said to his congregation, “Love one another” and then stood there. After a few minutes of silence he said to his congregation, “Love one another.” The congregration looked at him puzzled, like he may have forgotten what else he was going to say. Finally, a third time, he looked out from the pulpit and said, “Love one another.”
Now, the congregation understood. He was calling them to healing, calling them to reconciliation, calling them to forgive. To love, to understand, to live in harmony. To let it go.
So much hatred fills our world. It’s time to love. Not in a mushy way, not in a “warm fuzzy” sort of way, but instead, to love as Jesus called us to love. We are to love sacrificially. We are to love without putting ourselves first, we are to love without keeping a record of being loved in return. We are to love because God called us to love as His children.
I often wonder if Martin Luther King, Jr. and the others who worked so hard for equality would be saddened by the choices made by people today. We have become so focused on self– self service, “me-time”, self-serving behavior, even photos we take are called “selfies.”
We are not here for ourselves– we are here for others. Until we learn that we are doomed to repeat the hurting, the hating, and the killing in the name of self.